‘Paranoid’ No10 plots to stop Nicola Sturgeon ‘hijacking’ COP26 – ‘Pathetic and puerile’

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According to notes and WhatsApp messages seen by The Independent, advisers at Downing Street and the Cabinet Office have allegedly been working on a solution to prevent the Scottish First Minister from stealing the limelight at the Glasgow summit. One message reportedly suggested Boris Johnson should “neutralise” Ms Sturgeon during the event by including her with other devolved leaders and contextualising Glasgow as a city in the UK.

One message read: “This can be labelled as a role for her [as one of the UK’s leaders] but avoids her taking centre stage.”

“We can’t let this be used as an advert for an independence campaign,” another said.

The meeting notes also suggest that without a counter-strategy, there is a risk Ms Sturgeon could “hijack” the summit by using it as a “soapbox for her independence obsession”.

The COP26 summit is a UN-hosted event held between 31 October and 12 November this year.

The goal of the conference in Glasgow will be to bring together world leaders to counter climate change before it is too late by helping bring action towards the Paris Agreement.

A Scottish government source said the plan hinted “far more about the Prime Minister and those around him than it does about the First Minister”.

“COP26 in Glasgow is a vital occasion in the global fight against climate change – the world is at ‘code red’.

“That is what we should all be focusing on, instead of pathetic and puerile attempts at point-scoring, which simply demonstrate the depth of Downing Street’s paranoia.”

Earlier this year, the Prime Minister pushed back against Ms Sturgeon’s Scottish independence hopes, telling the Daily Telegraph it would be “irresponsible and reckless” to hold a second referendum.

Then during a recent trip to Scotland, Mr Johnson reportedly avoided meeting the Scottish First Minister in a bid to frame the upcoming Glasgow summit as a “UK win”.

During the recent visit to Scotland, Mr Johnson told the BBC “there’s going to be a role for Nicola, for Mark Drakeford [Welsh first minister], for everybody in the Cop26”.

A British Government spokesperson told The Independent “the Prime Minister looks forward to working with colleagues to deliver a successful conference.

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“The Prime Minister is leading the call for greater global climate ambition and action to tackle climate change ahead of Cop26, and he is committed to building on our world-leading record in slashing emissions and taking action to ensure we achieve net zero by 2050.”

Express.co.uk has approached No10 for comment.

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